Rhodri Williams: New Dragons scrum-half targeting Wales recall

By Gareth GriffithsBBC Wales Sport
I'll concentrate on Dragons first - Rhodri Williams

New Dragons scrum-half Rhodri Williams has set his sights on an international recall after returning to Wales.

Williams won the last of his three Tests caps in March 2014 against Scotland in Cardiff in the Six Nations.

The 25-year-old left the Scarlets in February 2016 for Bristol before linking up with Dragons for the 2018-19 season, along with team-mates Ryan Bevington and Jordan Williams.

"I am ambitious and want to push on for a Welsh spot," said Williams.

Williams' three caps have come as a replacement against Tonga and Australia in the autumn of 2013, and he then scored a first Test try in the Six Nations win against Scotland in Cardiff the following year.

He has returned to Dragons after the Welsh Rugby Union introduced a 60-cap rule, which deemed players under this tally could not be selected for Test rugby if they were playing their club rugby outside of Wales.

Rhodri Williams
Rhodri Williams featured for Wales at the World Rugby Sevens Series in London in 2016

Former Ospreys scrum-half Rhys Webb has become a victim of the policy after signing for French club Toulon and is currently unavailable for Wales selection.

Williams admitted that policy played a major part in his decision to return to regional rugby.

"Playing for Wales was not possible being over the [Severn] Bridge, so the 60-cap rule is beneficial for bringing players back and made my mind up for me," said Williams.

"It doesn't mean it's [playing for Wales] going to happen, but in 10 or 20 years I didn't want to regret a decision of staying there. By coming back it might not work but there are no regrets.

"It's black and white, if you stay there then you can't get picked no matter how well you are playing. There is clarity."

Stiff competition

Davies and Davies
Scarlets duo Gareth Davies and Aled Davies were Wales' first and second choice scrum-halves respectively in the 2018 Six Nations

Gareth Davies has become Wales' first-choice number nine, with Tomos Williams and Aled Davies impressing on the summer tour in victories against South Africa and Argentina.

This trio are in pole position for the 2019 World Cup but Williams wants to try and break back into the international fold.

"It's very tough, they all had good summer tours and then you have the standard of Lloyd [Williams], who is not far off," said Williams.

"There are plenty of high quality scrum-halves, so I have to concentrate on the Dragons first and get my spot here rather than thinking too far ahead.

"It is World Cup year but if I am not playing for the Dragons then I will be watching the World Cup from the stands."

Williams was involved in international rugby last month after starting for the Barbarians, who were coached by his former Bristol coach Pat Lam in their 63-45 victory over England at Twickenham.

'Wiser' after Premiership

Rhodri Williams
Rhodri Williams made 81 appearances for Scarlets between 2016 and 2018 before moving to Bristol

Williams has returned to Dragons after helping Bristol achieve promotion to the Aviva Premiership.

"I'd dropped down the pecking order at the Scarlets and wanted to show what I could do," said Williams.

"It was a change of scenery and experience of playing in a different country. It was very beneficial.

"I would like to say I am wiser with a better understanding of the game. Parts of my game have strengthened and generally I am in a better place."

Williams could also be working with Wales defence coach Shaun Edwards, who is in line to work with the Dragons and Ospreys next season.

Edwards has also been linked with the Wigan Warriors rugby league coach position, with Shaun Wane joining the Scottish Rugby Union.

Williams hopes Edwards stays involved within Welsh regional rugby.

"It would be huge," said Williams. "I thought he was a very good coach when I worked with him for Wales and you knew exactly what he wanted from you. It would be a huge boost for the Dragons."

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